Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS7452113 B2
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 11/128,478
Publication dateNov 18, 2008
Filing dateMay 13, 2005
Priority dateMar 9, 2004
Fee statusPaid
Also published asEP1879769A2, EP1879769A4, US20050265037, WO2006124557A2, WO2006124557A3
Publication number11128478, 128478, US 7452113 B2, US 7452113B2, US-B2-7452113, US7452113 B2, US7452113B2
InventorsMark W. Newton, John K. Roberts, Timothy A. Bonardi, Jeremy A. Fogg, Timothy J. Thomas, Darin D. Tuttle, Jeremy A. Walser
Original AssigneeGentex Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Optics for controlling the direction of light rays and assemblies incorporating the optics
US 7452113 B2
Abstract
The present invention relates to improvements in controlling the direction of light rays and apparatus incorporating the improvements.
Images(39)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(34)
1. An apparatus, comprising:
a mirror element comprising at least one substrate comprising a reflective layer on at least a portion of a surface thereof; and
two differently functioning indicia formed in said reflective layer, functions of said two indicia being selected from the group consisting of a supplemental turning indicator, keyhole/door illuminator, and a side object detection indicator, wherein both of said at least two indicia are defined by one contiguous line opening through said reflective layer.
2. An apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said two indicia have a symbolic meaning abstractly associated with a shape.
3. An apparatus as in claim 1 configured such that when mounted on a left side of a controlled vehicle said supplemental turning indicator indicates that the controlled vehicle is about to move or is moving to the left when an associated light source is energized.
4. An apparatus as in claim 1 configured such that when mounted on a right side of a controlled vehicle said supplemental turning indicator indicates that the controlled vehicle is about to move or is moving to the right when an associated light source is energized.
5. An apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said one contiguous line is less than approximately 2.0 mm wide.
6. An apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said one contiguous line is between approximately 0.8 mm and 2.0 mm wide.
7. An apparatus as in claim 1 wherein an average luminous flux density of said supplemental turning indicator is between approximately 14.0 mlm/mm2 and approximately 147.0 mlm/mm2.
8. An apparatus, comprising:
a mirror element comprising at least one substrate comprising a reflective layer on at least a portion of a surface thereof;
at least one indicia formed in said reflective layer, said at least one indicia defines one contiguous line having a width less than approximately 2.0 mm and opening through said reflective layer; and
at least two light sources configured to project light rays through said contiguous line.
9. An apparatus as in claim 8 wherein said at least one indicia has a symbolic meaning abstractly associated with a shape.
10. An apparatus as in claim 8 configured such that when mounted on a left side of a controlled vehicle at least one indicia indicates that the controlled vehicle is about to move or is moving to the left when an associated light source is energized.
11. An apparatus as in claim 8 configured such that when mounted on a right side of a controlled vehicle at least one indicia indicates that the controlled vehicle is about to move or is moving to the right when an associated light source is energized.
12. An apparatus as in claim 8 comprising a supplemental turning indicator and a side object detection indicator wherein both indicators are defined by said one contiguous line.
13. An apparatus as in claim 12 wherein said supplemental turning indicator is defined by a chevron shaped opening.
14. An apparatus as in claim 12 wherein said side object detection indicator is defined by a triangular shaped opening.
15. An apparatus as in claim 12 wherein said side object detection indicator is defined by a chevron shaped opening.
16. An apparatus as in claim 8 wherein said one contiguous line is between approximately 0.8 mm and 2.0 mm wide.
17. An apparatus as in claim 8 wherein an average luminous flux density of said at least one indicia is between approximately 14.0 mlm/mm2 and approximately 147.0 mlm/mm2.
18. An apparatus, comprising:
an electro-optic mirror element comprising at least one substrate comprising a reflective layer on at least a portion of a surface thereof;
at least one indicia formed in said reflective layer, said at least one indicia defined by one contiguous line having a width of less than approximately 2.0 mm and opening through said reflective layer; and
at least one light source configured to project light rays through said contiguous line.
19. An apparatus as in claim 18 wherein said at least one indicia has a symbolic meaning abstractly associated with a shape.
20. An apparatus as in claim 18 configured such that when mounted on a left side of a controlled vehicle at least one indicia indicates that the controlled vehicle is about to move or is moving to the left when an associated light source is energized.
21. An apparatus as in claim 18 configured such that when mounted on a right side of a controlled vehicle at least one indicia indicates that the controlled vehicle is about to move or is moving to the right when an associated light source is energized.
22. An apparatus as in claim 18 comprising a supplemental turning indicator and a side object detection indicator wherein both indicators are defined by said one contiguous line.
23. An apparatus as in claim 18 wherein said one contiguous line defines a chevron shaped opening that functions as a supplemental turning indicator.
24. An apparatus as in claim 18 wherein said one contiguous line defines a triangular shaped opening that functions as a side object detection indicator.
25. An apparatus as in claim 18 wherein said one contiguous line defines a chevron shaped opening that functions as a side object detection indicator.
26. An apparatus as in claim 18 wherein said contiguous line is between approximately 0.8 mm and 2.0 mm wide.
27. An apparatus as in claim 18 wherein an average luminous flux density of said at least one indicia is between approximately 14.0 mlm/mm2 and approximately 147.0 mlm/mm2.
28. An apparatus, comprising:
a mirror element comprising at least one substrate comprising a reflective layer on at least a portion of a surface thereof;
at least one contiguous line opening through said reflective layer, said line having a width of less than approximately 2.0 mm; and
at least one light source configured to project light rays through said contiguous line substantially in a preferred direction, wherein a luminous intensity is greater than or equal to approximately 5.0 candelas.
29. An apparatus as in claim 28 wherein said mirror element is an electro-optic mirror element.
30. An apparatus as in claim 28 wherein said at least one light source comprises at least one LED.
31. An apparatus as in claim 28 wherein said at least one contiguous line defines an indicia.
32. An apparatus as in claim 31 wherein said at least one indicia has a symbolic meaning abstractly associated with a shape.
33. An apparatus as in claim 31 configured such that when mounted on a left side of a controlled vehicle at least one indicia indicates that the controlled vehicle is about to move or is moving to the left when an associated light source is energized.
34. An apparatus as in claim 31 configured such that when mounted on a right side of a controlled vehicle at least one indicia indicates that the controlled vehicle is about to move or is moving to the right when an associated light source is energized.
Description
BACKGROUND

It has become desirable to provide a host of indicators, illuminators and information displays within various vehicle systems. More recently these devices have incorporated light emitting diodes as the light source that produces light rays. The term “light rays” as used herein should be understood in the context of an abstraction used in modeling optical systems.

What are needed are assemblies that emit light rays predominantly in a desired direction. Vehicle systems incorporating these assemblies are also needed.

SUMMARY

What are provided are improved assemblies for controlling the direction of light rays. Vehicle systems incorporating these assemblies are also provided.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 depicts a controlled vehicle;

FIG. 2 a depicts an exterior rearview mirror assembly;

FIG. 2 b depicts an exploded, perspective, view of the assembly of FIG. 2 a;

FIG. 2 c depicts a plan view of a turn signal indicator;

FIG. 2 d depicts a profile view of the turn signal indicator of FIG. 2 c;

FIG. 2 e depicts a perspective view of an exploded supplemental turning indicator assembly;

FIG. 2 f depicts a profile view of the assembly of FIG. 2 e;

FIG. 2 g depicts a perspective view of another exploded supplemental turning indicator assembly;

FIG. 2 h depicts a profile view of the assembly of FIG. 2 g;

FIG. 3 a depicts a perspective view of an interior rearview mirror assembly;

FIG. 3 b depicts a second perspective view of the assembly of FIG. 3 a;

FIG. 4 a depicts an indicator assembly;

FIG. 4 b depicts a graph of a light source radiation characteristic;

FIG. 5 depicts a light ray tracing;

FIG. 6 depicts a second light ray tracing;

FIG. 7 depicts a third light ray tracing;

FIG. 8 depicts a fourth light ray tracing;

FIG. 9 depicts a portion of the light ray tracing of FIG. 7;

FIG. 10 depicts a magnified view of various light ray tracing details;

FIG. 11 depicts a second magnified view of various light ray tracing details;

FIG. 12 depicts a magnified view of a portion of the light ray tracing of FIG. 11;

FIG. 13 depicts a magnified view of a second portion of the light ray tracing of FIG. 11;

FIGS. 14 a-k depict various embodiments of a rearview mirror comprising a composite light source having both illuminators and indicators; and

FIGS. 15 a-e depict various embodiments of a rearview mirror comprising a supplemental turning indicator and a side object detection indicator.

DETAIL DESCRIPTION

Vehicles commonly incorporate various indicators, illuminators and displays. As the use of these devices multiplies, it becomes more desirable to selectively direct associated light rays such that a majority of the light rays emitted by any given light source are substantially visible when viewed from primarily a desired viewing perspective.

In at least one embodiment of the present invention a light source is positioned such that associated light rays pass through at least one substrate of a rearview mirror element. In related embodiments, at least one indicator, illuminator or information display is configured to be substantially covert when not activated. In a preferred embodiment, substantially all of the light rays emitted from at least one light source are redirected to be visible from the perspective of a driver of a vehicle traveling in the “blind spot” associated with a driver of a controlled vehicle. Yet, the associated light rays are substantially not visible from the perspective of the driver of the controlled vehicle. A related assembly is described in detail herein to be incorporated in an exterior rearview mirror assembly of a controlled vehicle as a blind spot viewable, supplemental turning indicator assembly; it is preferable that the driver of the controlled vehicle not be overly distracted by the associated light rays. In at least one embodiment, a central axis of the associated light rays emitted by a light source is directed approximately 32° (approximately 15°/−10°) outboard, away, from the controlled vehicle, rendering the light rays substantially invisible with regard to a driver of the controlled vehicle. In related embodiments, the central optical axis of the associated light rays forms between approximately 25° and approximately 40° (+ approximately 10° to approximately 20°/−approximately 5° to approximately 25°) outboard, away, from the controlled vehicle. The given angle may be a function of an expected mirror element angle with respect to the controlled vehicle and, or, a driver thereof. It should be understood that the angle formed between the controlled vehicle and the mirror element is user selectable. In at least one embodiment, a surface mount light emitting diode is used with a corresponding circuit board placement within 1 mm, horizontally and vertically, of a desired center placement point. Preferably, the supplemental turning indicator assembly is designed to allow for 1 mm maximum variance in component placement at the time of assembly.

Turning now to FIG. 1 there is shown a controlled vehicle 105 comprising a driver's side rearview mirror 110 a, a passenger's side rearview mirror 110 b and rearview mirror 115. In a preferred embodiment, these rearview mirrors are configured to provide a driver of a controlled vehicle a view of substantially all of a scene generally rearward looking direction. As depicted, preferably the rearview mirrors 110 a, 110 b are configured to swivel rearwardly 110 a 1, 110 b 1 and forwardly 110 a 2, 110 b 2 relative to a controlled vehicle. Details of various embodiments of the present invention are described herein in conjunction with further description of various vehicle systems.

With additional reference to FIG. 1, the controlled vehicle is depicted to comprise taillight assemblies 125 a, 125 b; break lights 126 a, 126 b; rear turn signals 127 a, 127 b; backup lights 140 a, 140 b; headlight assemblies 120 a, 120 b; foul weather lights 130 a, 130 b; front turn signals 135 a, 135 b and a center high mounted stop light (CHMSL) 145. It should be understood that the controlled vehicle may comprise various combinations of the exterior lights described with respect to FIG. 1. It should also be understood that the controlled vehicle may comprise additional exterior lights or may even comprise individual assemblies that provide combined functionality. Such as a headlight assembly that functions as a daytime running light, a low beam headlight, a high beam headlight, any one thereof, a subcombination thereof or a combination thereof. Continuously variable, bi-xenon, headlights are a specific example.

As additionally shown in FIG. 1, the controlled vehicle may comprise A-pillars 150 a, 150 b; B-pillars 155 a, 155 b and C-pillars 160 a, 160 b. Any of these locations, along with the rearview mirrors and exterior light assemblies, provide suitable locations for at least one imager, at least one indicator, at least one illuminator, at least one information display, any one thereof, a subcombination thereof or a combination thereof.

Turning to FIGS. 2 a and 2 b, there is shown a rearview mirror assembly 210 a, 210 b. Preferably, the mirror assembly comprises a mirror housing 215 a, 215 b comprising a mirror element 220 a, 220 b. Preferably, the mirror housing is configured to be pivotally mounted to a vehicle swivel structure 230 a, 230 b via a mirror swivel structure 232 b. In at least one embodiment, the mirror assembly comprises a powered swivel means for swiveling the mirror swivel structure female portion 233 b about the vehicle swivel structure male portion 231 b. In at least one embodiment, the powered swivel means is configured to automatically swivel the mirror housing to a desired position in response to a corresponding button on a “keyfob.” For example, a remote keyless entry system may be configured to swivel at least one mirror housing in a rearward direction in addition to unlocking a corresponding door. This functionality allows multiple use of a single illuminator, for example, a security light 255 a may also serve as a keyhole/door illuminator 260 a. In at least one embodiment, at least one light source of a supplemental turning indicator assembly is configured to provide a keyhole/door illuminator. The light source may be configured to emit a different spectral band of light rays as a function of the swivel position of an associated rearview mirror. For example, the light rays may be predominantly amber as a supplemental turning indicator assembly and predominantly white as a keyhole/door illuminator. It should be understood that the “unlock” button on a keyfob may be used or a devoted additional button may be added. Optionally, a given keyfob button may be configured such that a predetermined sequence of activations induces a predetermine swivel position. Additionally, the rearview mirror housing may be configured to swivel in a forwardly direction when subject to a “break away” force; preferably, the mirror housing would swivel and not break away. It should be understood that the keyfob button functionality may be configured to be user selectable or programmable. In at least one embodiment, a rearview mirror is configured such that it reverts to a predetermined swivel position upon opening of a door, closing a door, initiation of an ignition function, a second keyfob button, a keyfob sequence of button activation, anyone thereof, a subcombination thereof or combination thereof. It should be understood that a rearview mirror assembly may be configured with vertical swivel functionality in addition to, or in lieu of, the horizontal functionality described herein.

With further reference to FIGS. 2 a and 2 b, the rearview mirror assembly comprises a supplemental turning indicator assembly 240 a; a blind spot indicator 250 a; a security light 255 a; a keyhole/door illuminator 260 a and a generally rearward facing photo sensor 265 a. Preferably, these devices are positioned behind the mirror element with respect to a viewer such that they are at least partially covert. The mirror element 220 a, 220 b comprises a first substrate 221 b and a second substrate 222 b secured in a spaced apart relationship with one another via a primary seal 223 b to form a chamber there between. Preferably, the chamber comprises an electro-optic medium such as those disclosed in commonly assigned U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,902,108, 5,128,799, 5,278,693, 5,280,380, 5,282,077, 5,294,376, 5,336,448, 5,808,778 and 6,020,987; the entire disclosures of which are incorporated herein in their entireties by reference. The mirror element further comprises electrical clips 225 b 1, 225 b 2, preferably, secured to the second substrate via adhesive 226 b 1, 226 b 2. The mirror element is then attached to a carrier 275 b, preferably, via adhesive 270 b. The carrier is attached to the mirror swivel structure 232 b via a positioner 280 b. The mirror swivel structure is secured to the vehicle swivel structure via spring 234 b 1, washer 234 b 2, lock ring 234 b 3 and fastener 234 b 4. The vehicle swivel structure is secured to the vehicle shroud 235 a, 235 b via fasteners 236 b 1, 136 b 2.

Plan and profile views of a supplemental turning indicator assembly are shown in FIGS. 2 c and 2 d, respectively. The supplemental turning indicator assembly 240 a, 240 c, 240 d comprises a first light source 241 c, 241 d; a second light source 242 c, 242 d; a third light source 243 c, 243 d; a fourth light source 244 c, 244 d; a fifth light source 245 c, 245 d; a sixth light source 246 c, 246 d and a seventh light source 247 c, 247 d. Preferably, each light source is a LA E63B, Power TOPLEDŽ, available from OSRAM Corporation, or an equivalent from Agilent, Cree, Nichia or others. In at least one embodiment wherein at least one white light source is desired it is preferable to use a NSCW 021 SMD type LED available from NICHIA Corporation, Tokushima-Ken, Japan. It should be understood that any of the light sources described in commonly assigned U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,803,579 and 6,335,548, as well as U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/835,278, the disclosures of which are incorporated in their entireties herein by reference, may be employed, the disclosures of each is incorporated in its entirety herein by reference. Preferably, each light source comprises a lens 248 c, 248 d. Each light source has an associated optics block comprising a first collimating portion 244 c 1, a first deviator portion 244 c 3, a second collimating portion 244 c 2 and a second deviator portion 244 c 4. Further details of related supplemental turning indicator assembly and optics blocks features are described in detail herein. It should be understood that more than one light source may be associated with a given optics block or multiple optics blocks may be associated with an individual light source. It should also be understood that multiple optics blocks may be incorporated into a common structure as shown in FIGS. 2 c-2 h. It should be understood that it is desirable to design the circuit board and optics block such that the light source is within 0.5 mm of a desired distance away from the optics block. In at least one embodiment, the optics block provides both vertical and horizontal light ray direction control. It should be understood that the optics blocks of the present invention may be incorporated individually for blind spot indicators, security lights, keyhole/door illuminators and other vehicle indicators, illuminators and information displays. It should be understood that the circuit board with light sources and other electrical components may be conformal coated and, or, the optics block may be configured such that it is ultrasonically, friction or vibratorilly welded, heat staked or otherwise sealingly adhered to the circuit board and configured to totally enclose the related electrical components of the supplemental turning indicator assembly.

With reference to FIGS. 2 e and 2 f, there is shown an embodiment of a rearview mirror assembly 211 e, 211 f comprising a supplemental turning indicator assembly. The supplemental turning indicator assembly comprises a printed circuit board 201 e, 201 f having an anti-rotation tab 201 e 4; an optics block alignment hole 201 e 1; an optics block alignment slot 201 e 3; first through seventh light sources 241 f-247 f and an electrical connector 201 f 1. Preferably, each light source has a lens 248 f. The supplemental turning indicator assembly further comprises a combination optics block 240 e, 240 f having an alignment pin 240 e 1, 240 f 1; spacers 240 e 5, 240 f 5; anti-rotation clips 240 e 4, 240 f 4; an alignment slot clip 240 e 3, 240 f 3; optics block locators 240 e 5 and optics block positioner 240 e 6. Preferably, each optics block within the combination optics block 240 e, 240 f comprises a first collimating portion 244 f 1, a second collimating portion 244 f 2, a first deviator portion 244 f 3 and a second deviator portion 244 f 4. It should be understood that the optics block alignment hole cooperates with the alignment pin, the spacers cooperate with the circuit board, the alignment slot cooperates with the alignment slot clip and the anti-rotation tab cooperates with the anti-rotation clips to secure the circuit board in a desired relationship with respect to the combination optics block. It should be understood that accurate positioning of the light sources upon the circuit board is desirable to insure overall alignment with the associated optics block. It should also be understood that the optics block locators cooperate with the carrier locators 275 e 5 and the optics block positioner cooperates with the carrier positioner 275 e 6 to insure accurate alignment of the supplemental turning assembly with the carrier and ultimately with the heater, adhesive pad and corresponding mirror element. With further reference to FIGS. 2 e and 2 f, the rearview mirror assembly further comprises a carrier 275 e, 275 f having a living hinged lid 249 e, 249 f and first through fourth clips 275 e 1-275 e 4. The lid comprises first through fourth lid clip surfaces 249 e 1-249 e 4 that cooperate with the respective first through fourth clips to secure the supplemental turning indicator assembly within the carrier. A heater element 270 e, 270 f having first and second electrical connectors 271 f 1, 271 f 2, respectively, is positioned proximate the carrier along with adhesive 270 e, 270 f. In at least one embodiment, the heater comprises at least a portion aligned with the supplemental turning indicator assembly that comprises a light ray diffuser. Examples of various heaters are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,151,824, 6,244,716, 6,426,485, 6,441,943 and 6,356,376, the disclosures of each of these Patents are incorporated in their entireties herein by reference.

With reference to FIGS. 2 g and 2 h, there is shown an embodiment of a rearview mirror assembly 211 g, 211 h comprising a supplemental turning indicator assembly. The supplemental turning indicator assembly comprises a printed circuit board 201 g, 201 h having an anti-rotation tab 201 g 1; an optics block alignment slot 201 g 2; first through seventh light sources 241 h-247 h and an electrical connector 201 h 1. The supplemental turning indicator assembly further comprises a combination optics block 240 g, 240 h having an anti-rotation pin 240 g 1, 240 h 1; a spacer 240 g 3, 240 h 3 and an alignment pin 240 g 2, 240 h 2; It should be understood that the spacer cooperates with the circuit board, the alignment slot cooperates with the alignment pin and the anti-rotation tab cooperates with the anti-rotation pin to secure the circuit board in a desired relationship with respect to the combination optics block. It should be understood that accurate positioning of the light sources upon the circuit board is desirable to insure overall alignment with the associated optics block. It should also be understood that the optics block locators cooperate with the carrier locators 275 g 5 to insure accurate alignment of the supplemental turning assembly with the carrier and ultimately with the heater, adhesive pad and corresponding mirror element. With further reference to FIGS. 2 g and 2 h, the rearview mirror assembly further comprises a carrier 275 g, 275 h having first and second clips 275 g 1-275 g 2. The lid 249 g, 249 h comprises first and second lid clips 249 g 1-249 g 2 that cooperate with the respective first and second clips to secure the supplemental turning indicator assembly within the carrier. A heater element 270 g, 270 h having first and second electrical connectors 271, g1271 h 1, 271 h 2, respectively, is positioned proximate the carrier along with adhesive 270 g, 270 h. In at least one embodiment, the heater comprises at least a portion aligned with the supplemental turning indicator assembly that comprises a light ray diffuser. Examples of various heaters are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,151,824, 6,244,716, 6,426,485, 6,441,943 and 6,356,376, the disclosures of each of these Patents are incorporated in their entireties herein by reference.

Turning now to FIGS. 3 a and 3 b a rearview mirror assembly 315 a, 315 b comprises a stationary housing 377 a, 377 b and a mirror housing 375 a, 375 b mounted to an attachment member 381 a, 381 b via a double ball stem 382 a, 383 a, 383 b, 384 b. The stationary housing comprises a rear portion 385 a, 385 b and a front portion 390 a, 390 b having a viewing window 386 b. In at least one embodiment, the stationary housing comprises at least one imager, at least one automatic exterior light control module, at least one moisture sensor module, at least one compass sensor, at least one compass, at least one speaker, at least one microphone, at least one windshield wiper automatic control, at least one digital signal processor, at least one automatic defogger control, at least one collision avoidance control, at least one lane departure warning module, at least one electro-optic mirror element control module, at least one supplemental illuminator module, at least one photo sensor, at least one processor, any one thereof, a subcombination thereof or combination thereof. Preferably, the mirror assembly comprises a mirror element 322 a and a bezel 345 a, 345 b. In at least one embodiment, the mirror housing comprises at least one imager, at least one automatic exterior light control module, at least one moisture sensor module, at least one compass sensor, at least one compass, at least one speaker, at least one microphone, at least one windshield wiper automatic control, at least one digital signal processor, at least one digital sound processor, at least one GPS system, at least one navigation system, at least one automatic defogger control, at least one collision avoidance control, at least one lane departure warning module, at least one electro-optic mirror element control module, at least one supplemental illuminator module, at least one photo sensor, at least one processor, any one thereof, a subcombination thereof or combination thereof. Preferably, the mirror assembly further comprises at least one ambient light sensor 365 b, at least one microphone 366 b and at least one interconnecting cable 315 b for electrical communication from the mirror housing to the stationary housing. It should be understood that a second interconnecting cable may be provided for electrical communication from the mirror assembly to the vehicle and, or, at least one other rearview mirror assembly. The interconnecting cable, or cables, may be configured to route, at least partially, through the double ball stem, therefore, are at least partially covert. Preferably, the mirror assembly comprises at least one information display 388 a, 389 a, a first indicator 386 a, at least a second indicator 387 a, at least one glare light sensor 396 a, at least one second glare sensor 397 a, an illuminator, any one thereof, a subcombination thereof or combination thereof. In at least one embodiment, at least one indicator, illuminator, information display, photo sensor, subcombination thereof or combination thereof is positioned behind the mirror element with respect to a viewer. It should be understood that the optics blocks described herein may be employed with any of these device to control the direction of the associated light rays. Exterior light control systems as described in commonly assigned U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,990,469; 6,008,486; 6,130,421; 6,130,448; 6,255,639; 6,049,171; 5,837,994; 6,403,942; 6,281,632; 6,291,812; and U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 09/448,364; 09/538,389; 09/605,102; 09/678,856; 09/800,460; 09/847,197; 09/938,774; 09/491,192; 60/404,879; 10/235,476; and 10/208,142, the disclosures of which are incorporated in their entireties herein by reference, may be incorporated in accordance with the present invention. Examples of microphones for use with the present invention are described in commonly assigned U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 09/144,176 and 10/076,158, the disclosures of which are incorporated in their entireties herein by reference. Various indicators for use with the present invention are described in commonly assigned U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,803,579 and 6,335,548, as well as commonly assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/835,278, the disclosures of which are incorporated in their entireties herein by reference. Preferred light sensors for use within the present invention are described in detail in commonly assigned U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,923,027 and 6,313,457, the disclosures of which are incorporated in their entireties herein by reference. The details of various control circuits for use herewith are described in commonly assigned U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,956,012; 6,084,700; 6,222,177; 6,224,716; 6,247,819; 6,249,369; 6,392,783; and 6,402,328, the disclosures of which are incorporated in their entireties herein by reference. It should be understood that the mirror assembly may incorporate light-sensing electronic circuitry of the type illustrated and described in the above-referenced Canadian Patent No. 1,300,945, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,204,778, 5,451,822, 6,402,328, or 6,386,713 and other circuits capable of sensing glare and ambient light and supplying a drive voltage to the electro-optic element, the disclosures of which are incorporated in their entireties herein by reference. Moisture sensors and windshield fog detector systems are described in commonly assigned U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,923,027 and 6,313,457, the disclosures of which are incorporated in their entireties herein by reference.

Turning now to FIGS. 4 a and 4 b, a light source 405 a, having a lens 406 a, is depicted to be mounted to a circuit board 401 a. A typical light source will emit light rays 410 a in a pattern as depicted. The x-axis of FIG. 4 b represents the angular viewing position relative to the central optical axis of the light source and the y-axis represents a normalized radiation characteristic of the light source. As can be seen, light rays emitted by a typical light source will be minimally visible beyond some given viewing angle with respect to a central optical axis 407 a. Preferably, an optics block is provided with a concentrating portion 425 a to redirect light rays 410 a to substantially concentrated light rays 426 a. In at least one embodiment, the optics block comprises a deviator portion 430 a to redirect light rays 426 a to a desired light ray 431 a direction. As can be seen, the optics block of FIG. 4 a may be incorporated in a rearview mirror indicator assembly, illuminator assembly or information display assembly to control the vertical direction of light rays in a condensing fashion. The light source, circuit board and optics block form a light assembly 400 a. In at least one embodiment, the optics block is configured to direct substantially all of the associated light rays to define a vertical viewing angle approximately −5° and approximately 5° (+approximately 4° to approximately 5°/−approximately 2° to approximately 3°) with respect to a central optical axis.

Turning now to FIGS. 5 and 6, there is shown a light source 505, 605 mounted to a circuit board 601 to define a central optical axis 507. An optics block incorporating a collimating portion 525, 625 and a deviator portion 530, 630 is provided to control the direction of the light rays preferably away from the driver's eye 590, 690. As can be seen, the light rays 626 that pass through the collimating portion are redirected substantially parallel to the central optical axis, however, light rays 528 a, 528 b that pass through the non-collimating portion 527, 627 are not so redirected. As can be seen, the light rays 528 a result in reflected light rays 531 a, 532 a, 533 a directed toward an undesirable portion of deviator surface 530. Similarly, light rays 528 b are reflected and refracted light rays 531 b, 532 b, 533 b directed toward an undesirable direction. Some of the light rays 510, 610 are actually directed toward the driver's eye. It should be understood that secondary optics blocks may be added to further redirect the light rays 528 a, 528 b. With further reference to FIG. 6, it can be seen that the light rays 626 that have been redirected substantially parallel to the central optical axis result in light rays 631, 632 that are redirected substantially as desired. As can be appreciated, this configuration does not result in a majority of the light rays emitted from the light source being redirected as desired. The light source 505, 605; circuit board 601 and the optics block form a light assembly 500, 600. In at least one embodiment, the collimating portion collimates light rays horizontally and redirects (concentrates) light rays vertically. Preferably, total internal reflections (TIR) optics form light rays horizontally in the outboard direction relative to the controlled vehicle. In at least one embodiment, the optics block is configured to direct substantially all of the associated light rays to define a vertical viewing angle approximately −5° and approximately 5° (+approximately 4° to approximately 5°/−approximately 2° to approximately 3°) with respect to a central optical axis. In at least one embodiment, a minimum of approximately 5 candelas are present at approximately 5°, approximately 4 candelas at approximately 10° and approximately 3 candelas at approximately 15°, all angles with respect to a central optical axis.

With reference to FIG. 7, a light source 705 is mounted to a circuit board 701 such that light rays 710 are emitted toward an optics block. Preferably, the optics block comprises a first collimating portion 725 a to redirect a portion of the light rays 710 as partially collimated light rays 726 a toward a first deviator portion 730 a resulting in light rays 731 a, 732 a. Preferably, the optics block comprises a second collimating portion 725 b to redirect a portion of the light rays 710 as partially collimated light rays 726 b toward a second deviator portion 730 b resulting in light rays 731 b, 732 b. As can be seen, substantially all of the light rays emitted from the light source are redirected as desired away from the driver's eye 790 and toward a blind spot. The light source, the circuit board and the optics block form a light assembly 700. Preferably, the first collimating portion 725 a directs partially collimated light rays 726 a approximately 15° inboard, toward, the controlled vehicle 795 with respect to the central optical axis of the associated light source. The first collimating portion may be configured as a curved lens surface defining either a radial, an elliptical, a hyperbolic, a parabolic or a complex shape. As described in more detail elsewhere herein, the first deviator portion 730 a is preferably configured to refract substantially all of the partially collimated light rays 726 a approximately 45° (+/− approximately 17°) outboard, away, from the controlled vehicle with respect to the central optical axis of the associated light source. Preferably, the second collimating portion 725 b directs partially collimated light rays 726 b approximately 15° outboard, away, from the controlled vehicle with respect to the central optical axis of the associated light source. The second collimating portion may be configured as a curved lens surface defining either a radial, an elliptical, a hyperbolic, a parabolic or a complex shape. The second deviator portion 730 b is preferably configured to redirect substantially all of the partially collimated light rays 726 b approximately 29° (+/−approximately 14°) outboard, away, from the controlled vehicle with respect to the central optical axis of the associated light source. These two groups of light rays combine to define a beam pattern that is approximately 32° (+approximately 15°/−approximately 10°) with respect to a central optical axis.

Turning now to FIG. 8, a mirror assembly 802 is depicted to comprise a light assembly comprising a light source 805, a circuit board 801 and an optics block similar to that shown in FIG. 7. In this embodiment, a portion of the light rays 810 are redirected via a first collimating portion 825 a to form at least partially collimated light rays 826 a 1, 826 a 2. Light rays 826 a 1 are redirected by a first deviator portion 830 a to form light rays 831 a 1, 832 a 1. Light rays 826 a 2 are redirected by the first deviator to form light rays 831 a 2, 832 a 2. A portion of the light rays 810 are redirected via a second collimating portion 825 b to form light rays 826 b 1, 826 b 2. Light rays 826 b 1 are redirected via a second deviator portion 830 b to form light rays 831 b 1. Light rays 826 b 2 are redirected via the second deviator portion to form light rays 831 b 2. Preferably, substantially all of the light rays 810 emitted by the light source pass through the area 867 defined in an associated mirror element 840 reflective stack 866. Preferably, the mirror element further comprises a first substrate 845, having a first surface 850 and a second surface 855, and a second substrate 860, having a third surface 865 and a fourth surface 870. It should be understood that in at least one embodiment, the mirror element is a prismatic mirror comprising a single substrate through which the associated light rays pass. As can be seen, the majority of the light rays 810 are directed outboard of the controlled vehicle 895 and away from the driver's eye 890. In at least one embodiment, the area 867 defines a window having a higher transmissivity than the remainder of the reflective stack 866. With this window configuration in combination with aligning the light source and optics block as depicted in FIG. 8 and described with regard to FIGS. 2 e 02 h, approximately half of the first deviator portion 830 a is out of alignment with respect to the window area. Since the second collimating portion and the second deviator portion direct substantially all of the related light rays 826 b 1, 826 b 2, 831 b 1, 831 b 2 outboard, away, from the controlled vehicle and the half of the first collimating portion. Combined with the first deviator portion, most susceptible to producing stray light rays, being out of alignment with respect to the window, very little, if any, light rays 826 a 1, 826 a 2, 831 b 1, 831 b 2 are visible to the driver of the controlled vehicle. It should be understood that substantially the entire reflective stack 866, including the area 867, may be configured to be similarly, if not identically, at least partially transmissive, may have alternating areas of differing transmissivity in the area 867, or may comprise any of the configurations as described in commonly assigned U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,682,267, 5,689,370, 6,064,509, 6,062,920, 6,268,950, 6,195,194, 5,940,201, 6,246,507, 6,057,956, 6,512,624, 6356,376, 6,166,848, 6,111,684, 6,193,378, 6,239,898, 6,441,943, 6,037,471, 6,020,987, 5,825,527 6,111,684 and 5,998,617, the disclosures of each of these Patents are incorporated in their entireties herein by reference.

With reference to FIG. 9, there is shown a light source 905 in relation to an optics block similar to those shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. The optics block comprises a first collimating portion 925 a configured to redirect a portion of light rays 910 as partially collimated light rays 926 a. In at least one embodiment, the angle defined by the first deviator segment 930 a 2 with respect to the central optical axis 907 is less than the angle of the partially collimated light rays 926 a 1, 926 a 2, such that the portion of partially collimated light rays 926 a that pass deviator edge 930 a 1 do not impinge on the second deviator segment 930 a 3 and are reflected by the third deviator segment 930 a 4 and refracted by the first deviator segment 930 a 2. Preferably, as described in detail elsewhere herein, deviator segment 930 a 4 forms an angle with respect to the central optical axis 907 such that even light rays 926 a 1 clear adjoining deviator segments and edges. In a preferred embodiment, a null zone 926 c is defined to minimize light ray cross-over from the second collimating portion to the first deviator portion and from the first collimating portion to the second deviator portion.

Turning now to FIG. 10, there is shown an enlarged view of a portion of a first deviator portion 1030. As can be seen in this embodiment, the angle defined by the first deviator segment 1030 a 2 with respect to the central optical axis 1007 is greater than the angle defined by the partially collimated light rays 1026 a resulting in the light rays 1026 a 3 passing the adjoining deviator edge 1030 a 5 and impinging upon the adjoining second deviator segment 1030 a 6, resulting in stray light rays 1031 a 3. This configuration causes a significant amount of the associated light rays to be reflected off the first deviator segment (preferably, refracting surface) 1030 a 2, through the third deviator segment (preferably, reflecting surface) 1030 a 4, inboard toward the driver of the controlled vehicle. Light rays may be bounced off refracting surfaces, off reflecting surfaces and then refract outboard, away, from the controlled vehicle at a greater angle than desired. As well known, when light rays 1026 a approach the angle of total internal reflection (TIR), the light rays are refracted and reflected according to the Fresnel equations. The configuration depicted in FIG. 10, with its relatively wide deviator pattern, results in a portion of the partially collimated light rays 1026 a are reflected off segment 1030 a 4 toward segment 1030 a 2. These light rays are close to a TIR angle, reflected light rays 1031 a 1 will impinge upon the adjoining first deviator segment 1030 a 5.

FIG. 11 depicts another enlarged view of a first deviator portion 1130. As can be seen the first and second deviator segments 1130 a 2, 1130 a 3, respectively, define a less pointed shape compared to the second deviator segment 1130 a 1. Due to optics block molding and forming, the second deviator segment may define a more rounded shape. As can be seen, when the light rays 1126 a form a desired angle with respect to the third deviator segment 1130 a 4 light rays 1126 a 1, 1126 a 2 are redirected as light rays 1131 a 1, 1131 a 2, respectively, as desired. However, when the light rays 1126 a form an incorrect angle with respect to the adjoining third deviator segment 1130 a 5 a portion of the light rays 1126 a 3 will impinge upon adjoining deviator segments 1130 a 3 and become totally internally reflected light rays 1131 a 3. Only a portion of the light rays 1126 a 4 will be directed as desired light rays 1131 a 4. In at least one embodiment, the third deviator segment 1130 a 6 defines a slight convex curve such that substantially all of the light rays 1126 a 1,1126 a 2 are directed as desired to clear all other optics block segments and edges.

Turning now to FIG. 12, another enlarged view of a first deviator portion 1230 is depicted. Preferably, the first deviator segment 1230 a 1 forms a smaller angle with respect to the central optical axis 1207 compared to an angle of the light rays 1226 a, such that the light rays 1226 a 1, 1226 a 2 are redirected as light rays 1231 a 1,1231 a 2, respectively, as desired. In at least one embodiment, the second deviator segment 1230 a 2 defines a substantially rounded shape and the third deviator segment 1230 a 3 defines a slightly convex curve. This configuration results in substantially all light rays 1226 a clearing the adjoining second deviator segment 1230 a 4.

FIG. 13 depicts another enlarged view of a first deviator portion 1330 having a first deviator segment (preferably, refraction portion) 1330 a 1, a second deviator segment (preferably, rounded portion) 1330 a 2 and slightly convex shaped third deviator segment 1330 a 3. In at least one embodiment, the refraction portion 1330 a 1 forms an angle that is greater than 5° less than the angle formed by the light rays 1326 a 4 such that light rays 1331 a 4 with respect to a central optical axis are emitted in the desired direction. When the light rays 1326 a 3 are less than 5° less than the angle formed by the first deviator segment, there is a potential for total internally reflected light rays 1331 a 3 being produced.

Turning now to FIGS. 14 a-k, various embodiments of a rearview mirror assembly 1410 a are depicted. In at least one embodiment, the assembly includes a mirror element 1421 a, a carrier plate 1475 a and a bezel 1424 a. The mirror element comprises a first electrical contact 1425 a 1 and a second electrical contact 1425 a 2. A light source assembly is positioned within a compartment in the carrier plate behind the mirror element with respect to a viewer of the mirror assembly. In at least one embodiment, the light source assembly comprises first, second and third indicators 1441 a 1, 1442 a 1, 1443 a 1 mounted to a circuit board configured to function as a supplemental turning indicator; each of the indicators has an associated optic element 1441 a 2, 1442 a 2, 1443 a 2, respectively. In at least one embodiment, the assembly comprises fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh indicators 1444 a 1, 1445 a 1, 1446 a 1, 1447 a 1 mounted to the circuit board configured to function as an approach indicator to illuminate the area outside of a corresponding door of a controlled vehicle, such as, the ground, the door itself, a keyhole, a subcombination thereof or combination thereof. In at least one embodiment, the indicators are positioned within the rearview mirror assembly such that they are outside the field of view triangle as depicted by the dashed lines in FIGS. 14 b-e. It should be understood that a single indicator, or more or less indicators, may be configured to provide the functions described or additional light sources may be included to provide additional indicators and, or, illuminators, such as, security lighting, blind spot indicators and the like. It should be understood that any of the illuminators and, or, indicators may be red, amber, white, blue-green, blue, green, yellow, orange or any other desired colored. In at least one embodiment, the indicators and, or, illuminators are light emitting diodes. Turning to FIG. 14 b, a mirror element is depicted having a continuously extending etching 1465 b in a corresponding reflective surface 1420 b configured to increase the light transmission characteristics of an area in front of at least a portion of the light source assembly; as shown the etching follows a pattern similar to the overall shape of the light source assembly. Turning to FIG. 14 c, a mirror element is depicted having a patterned etching 1465 c in a corresponding reflective surface 1420 c configured to increase the light transmission characteristics of an area in front of at least a portion of the light source assembly; as shown the etching define a pattern similar to the overall shape of the light source assembly. Turning to FIG. 14 d, a mirror element is depicted having a continuously extending etching 1465 d in a corresponding reflective surface 1420 d configured to increase the light transmission characteristics of an area in front of at least a portion of the light source assembly; as shown the etching is predominately vertically extending to define a pattern similar to the overall shape of the light source assembly. It should be understood that the etching may extend predominately horizontal or at an angle in lieu of vertical. Turning to FIG. 14 e, a mirror element is depicted having a continuous etching 1465 e in a corresponding reflective surface 1420 e configured to increase the light transmission characteristics of an area in front of at least a portion of the light source assembly; as shown the etching defines a pattern similar to the overall shape of the light source assembly. It should be understood that the areas may be masked portions when the reflective surface is applied to the substrate in lieu of subsequent etching.

Turning now to FIG. 14 f, a rearview mirror assembly is depicted comprising a mirror element having a first substrate 1445 f and a second substrate 1460 f positioned between a carrier plate 1475 f and a bezel 1424 f. In at least one embodiment, a light source assembly comprising at least one light source 1405 f mounted to a circuit board 1401 f and an optics element 1402 f is positioned behind the mirror element with respect to a viewer. In at least one embodiment, the circuit board is angled with respect to the mirror element such that a primary optical axis of the associated light rays 1410 f defines approximately a ten degree angle outboard with respect to the controlled vehicle. In at least one embodiment, a lens defined by a first surface having a total internal reflecting portion 1425 f 1 producing light rays 1426 f 1 and a collimating portion 1425 f 2 producing light rays 1426 f 2 combined with a second surface 1430 f to produce light rays 1431 f directed toward the mirror element to produce light rays 1432 f transmitted through the mirror element.

Turning now to FIG. 14 g, a rearview mirror assembly is depicted comprising a mirror element having a first substrate 1445 g and a second substrate 1460 g positioned between a carrier plate 1475 g and a bezel 1424 g. In at least one embodiment, a light source assembly comprising at least one light source 1405 g mounted to a circuit board 1401 g and an optics element 1402 g is positioned behind the mirror element with respect to a viewer. In at least one embodiment, the lens surface 1425 g is slightly converging. In at least one embodiment, the slightly converging lens facilitates using a smaller etched or masked area in the reflective surface depicted in FIGS. 14 b-e. In at least one embodiment, the lens comprises a macro beam shaping surface 1430 g.

Turning now to FIG. 14 h, a rearview mirror assembly is depicted comprising a mirror element having a first substrate 1445 h and a second substrate 1460 h positioned between a carrier plate 1475 h and a bezel 1424 h. In at least one embodiment, a light source assembly comprising at least one light source 1405 h mounted to a circuit board 1401 h and an optics element 1402 h is positioned behind the mirror element with respect to a viewer. In at least one embodiment, the optics element comprises a lens having a Fresnel portion 1425 h 1 surrounding a collimating portion 1425 h 2 on a first surface and a refractive portion 1430 h on a second portion. In at least one embodiment, this lens configuration results in a reduced depth associated with the light source assembly and carrier plate.

Turning now to FIG. 14 i, a rearview mirror assembly is depicted comprising a mirror element having a first substrate 1445 i and a second substrate 1460 i positioned between a carrier plate 1475 i and a bezel 1424 i. In at least one embodiment, a light source assembly comprising at least one light source 1405 i mounted to a circuit board 1401 i and an optics element 1402 i is positioned behind the mirror element with respect to a viewer. In at least one embodiment, the lens surface 1425 i is slightly converging. In at least one embodiment, the slightly converging lens facilitates using a smaller etched or masked area in the reflective surface depicted in FIGS. 14 b-e. In at least one embodiment, the lens comprises a planar macro beam shaping surface 1430 i.

Turning now to FIG. 14 j, a rearview mirror assembly is depicted comprising a mirror element having a first substrate 1445 j and a second substrate 1460 j positioned between a carrier plate 1475 j and a bezel 1424 j. In at least one embodiment, a light source assembly comprising at least one light source 1405 j mounted to a circuit board 1401 j and an optics element 1402 j is positioned behind the mirror element with respect to a viewer. In at least one embodiment, the optics element comprises a first lens surface having a total internal reflecting portion 1425 j 1 surrounding a collimating portion 1425 j 2. In at least one embodiment, the lens comprises a refractive macro beam shaping surface 1430 j. In at least one related embodiment, substantially complete collimating of the light rays emitted by an associated light source is achieved.

Turning now to FIG. 14 k, a rearview mirror assembly is depicted comprising a mirror element having a first substrate 1445 k and a second substrate 1460 k positioned between a carrier plate 1475 k and a bezel 1424 k. In at least one embodiment, a light source assembly comprising at least one light source 1405 k mounted to a circuit board 1401 k and an optics element 1402 k is positioned behind the mirror element with respect to a viewer. In at least one embodiment, the optics element comprises a first lens surface having a total internal reflecting portion 1425 k 1 surrounding a refractive portion 1425 k 2. In at least one embodiment, the lens comprises a macro beam shaping surface 1430 k. In at least one related embodiment, the optics element is angled approximately ten degrees with respect to the circuit board and a combined approximate twenty degree angle results in the primary optical axis of the resulting light rays emitted from the first substrate to be approximately thirty-three degrees.

With reference now to FIGS. 15 a-e, various embodiments of a rearview mirror assembly 15lOa comprising a supplemental turning indicator assembly 1540 a, a side object detection indicator 1550 a and a bezel 1524 a are shown. Although an exterior rearview mirror assembly is depicted, it should be understood that the structure and function described herein is equally applicable to inside rearview mirror assemblies. It should be understood that the supplemental turning indicator and the side object detection indicator may take on a host of specific graphical representations; for example, the vehicle graphics and traffic lane lines may be removed leaving only the chevron and the triangle. It should be understood that the reflector and/or substantially transparent conductor layer remaining in the inside area of a triangle may remain electrically connected to the reflector and/or substantially transparent conductor layer outside the triangle via a portion of a reflector and/or substantially transparent conductor layer extending between the two. An arrow may replace the chevron as described elsewhere herein wherein the shaft of the arrow provides additional indicator and or illuminator functions. In at least one embodiment a smaller chevron may be “embedded” next to the larger chevron toward the controlled vehicle and function as a side object detection indicator. In at least one embodiment a series of chevrons may be placed proximate one another and have associated light sources that are configured to provide a sequential lighting of the individual chevrons; the individual chevrons may comprise unique colors to indicate the presence of an object in the area generally to the side and rear of a driver of a controlled vehicle. In at least one embodiment a supplemental turning indicator and a side object detection indictor define a single contiguous opening in a reflective layer and/or substantially transparent electrode. In at least one embodiment, a graphic of a vehicle is provided that illuminates when an object is detected beside the controlled vehicle; in lieu of a side object detection indicator shown in FIG. 15 a a graphic of a vehicle may be accompanied by a series of graphical lines that light in various colors depending upon the proximity of the object to the controlled vehicle. The term “indicia” is used herein to mean a symbol that holds a symbolic meaning in and of itself wherein the shape is an abstraction for another meaning, such as, a chevron or arrow to indicate a vehicle is about to move in a certain direction or another object is close by, a triangle to indicate a warning, or the like; the indicia are not to be confused with a square, rectangular, circular or oval shape that individually have no symbolic meaning. It should be understood that a flash rate of a supplemental turning indicator and or a side object detection indicator may be independently varied to indicate to a driver of a controlled vehicle different operating environments and impending mishaps, for example, the supplemental turning indicator may flash faster when an object is detected or may flash at a rate different from a flashing side object detection indicator depending upon the proximity of a detected object.

It should be understood that any of the blind spot indicators and or side object detection indicators described herein may be activated by use of a variety of sensors, such as, sonar transmitter/receiver, radar transmitter/receiver, magnetic sensor, electromagnetic sensor, capacitive sensor, image sensors, motion sensors, light sensors, etc. In at least one embodiment a control is provided to receive signals from at least one sensor and to automatically activate the appropriate indicator. Sensors may be provided in an exterior mirror assembly, on a side exterior of an associated vehicle, such as, in a side exterior light assembly, on a rear portion of a vehicle, such as, the bumper, CHMSL, a taillight assembly, a license plate light assembly or a headlight assembly. In at least one embodiment, a side object detection indicator will not be automatically energized unless a turn signal is activated by a driver of the controlled vehicle.

FIG. 15 b depicts an exploded view of a rearview mirror assembly from a frontal perspective. In at least one embodiment, a mirror assembly comprises a supplemental turning indicator 1540 b 1, 1540 b 2 and a side object detection indicator 1550 b 1, 1550 b 2. In at least one embodiment, the supplemental turning indicator and side object detection indicator are incorporated into a common module comprising indicia etched (or masked) in a corresponding mirror element reflector and or electrode, a combination optics block 1541 b and a printed circuit board 1501 b. In at least one embodiment the combination optics block comprises a plurality of individual optics elements as depicted and described with reference to FIGS. 15 c-e, alignment pins/standoffs 1541 b 2, 1541 b 3, standoff 1541 b 1 and optical surface 1541 b 6. In at least one embodiment the optical surface 1541 b 6 is a light ray diffusing surface, a light ray diffracting surface, a light ray deviating surface, a subcombination thereof or a combination thereof. In at least one embodiment a plurality of light sources 1540 b 2 are configured on the printed circuit board to define the supplemental turning indicator and a plurality of light sources 1550 b 2 are configured on the printed circuit board to define the side approach indicator. In at least one embodiment the printed circuit board comprises a series of alignment holes 1501 b 2, 1501 b 3 configured to engage the alignment pins/standoffs of the combination optics block to provide accurate alignment of the individual optics elements with the desired light source(s). In at least one embodiment the light sources are SmartLEDs selected from the 0603 series available from OSRAM Opto Semiconductors GmbH, Wernerwerkstrasse 2, D-93049 Regensburg, Germany. Additional details of the supplemental turning indicator and side object detection indicator are described elsewhere herein. In at least one embodiment the supplemental turning indicator/side object detection indicator assembly is positioned within a receptacle 1549 b within a carrier 1575 b behind a rear substrate 1522 b of a corresponding mirror element. In at least one embodiment, the mirror element comprises a front substrate 1521 b and is retained within the carrier via a bezel 1524 b. It should be understood that a rearview mirror assembly with no bezel may be configured in lieu of an assembly having a bezel; an element having a substantially opaque reflective ring about a perimeter portion as described in commonly assigned patents and patent applications incorporated herein may be employed. It should be understood that the mirror element may be either a single substrate having a reflector on a rear most surface or may be an electro-optic mirror element having a reflector on either a front or rear surface of a rear substrate. It should be understood that either substrate or each substrate may be from approximately 1.0 mm to approximately 2.5 mm thick, preferably 2.2 mm, more preferably 1.6 mm and most preferably 1.1 mm; one substrate may be thicker than the other. In any event, a supplemental turning indicator and or side object detection indicator may be formed in the corresponding reflective layer and or substantially transparent electrode by removal of at least a portion, or all, of the reflective layer in a desired pattern or by masking the substrate during application of the reflective layer and or substantially transparent electrode to the substrate. It should also be understood that a transflective layer or layers may be utilized in lieu of etching or masking the reflective layer or layers, in this case location of the individual light sources defines the desired indicator shape. An electrical wire harness 1585 b is provided with plugs 1584 b, 1586 b to supply electrical power from a corresponding controlled vehicle to the mirror assembly including a supplemental turning indicator, a side object detection indicator, a heater, an electro-optic element, a subcombination thereof, a combination thereof and additional electrical apparatus as described elsewhere herein, such as, a light sensor, an image sensor, a sonar sensor, a radar sensor, magnetic sensor, electro-magnetic sensor, capacitive sensor, a motion sensor, a blind spot indicator, a security light, a keyhole/door illuminator, an illuminator and an information display.

Turning now to FIG. 15 c, an exploded view of a rearview mirror assembly is depicted from a rearward perspective. In at least one embodiment a supplemental turning indicator 1540 c 1, 1540 c 3 and a side object detection indicator 1550 c 1, 1550 c 3 are provided. In at least one embodiment a heater 1571 c is provided with an aperture 1571 c 1 formed therein such that light rays from light sources associated with the supplemental turning indicator and or side object detection indicator will pass therethrough. In at least one embodiment a light diffusing film is provided within said aperture and may be formed integral with the heater. It should be understood that a light diffuser may be provided on a surface of the mirror element by either etching, such as by sand blasting or the like, the glass or by laser etching a coating on the glass such that a residual coating is left on the glass and or such that the glass itself becomes a light ray diffusant. In at least one embodiment a supplemental turning indicator and a side object detection indicator are incorporated into a common assembly comprising a printed circuit board 1501 c having alignment holes 1501 c 2, 1501 c 3, 1501 c 4, 1501 c 5 and a common optics block 1541 c having alignment pins/standoffs 1541 c 2, 1541 c 3, 1541 c 4, 1541 c 5, a standoff 1541 c 1, a plurality of optics elements 1540 c 3 configured for the supplemental turning indicator and a plurality of optics elements 1550 c 3 configured for the side object detection indicator. In at least one embodiment a supplemental turning indicator/side object detection indicator assembly is positioned within a receptacle 1549 c within a carrier 1575 c behind a rear substrate 1522 c of a mirror element. In at least one embodiment a mirror element is provided with a front substrate 1521 c and a rear substrate forming an electro-optic element. In at least one embodiment a mirror element is retained within a carrier via a bezel 1524 c. An electrical wire harness 1585 c is provided with plugs 1584 c, 1586 c to supply electrical power from a corresponding vehicle to the mirror assembly including a supplemental turning indicator, a side object detection indicator, a heater, an electro-optic element, a subcombination thereof, a combination thereof and additional electrical apparatus as described elsewhere herein, such as, a light sensor, an image sensor, a sonar sensor, a radar sensor, magnetic sensor, electro-magnetic sensor, capacitive sensor, a motion sensor, a blind spot indicator, a security light, a keyhole/door illuminator, an approach light, an illuminator and an information display.

Turning to FIG. 15 d a sectional view of a rearview mirror assembly is depicted comprising a supplemental turning indicator and a side object detection indicator. In at least one embodiment an electro-optic mirror element comprising a rear substrate 1522 d, a front substrate 1521 d fixed in a spaced apart relationship with one another via a seal 1523 d are provided. In at least one embodiment a reflector is provided on an inward facing surface of a rear substrate having indicia 1540 d 1, 1550 d 1 formed therein. In at least one embodiment a heater 1571 d is provided having an aperture 1571 d 1 formed therein and configured such that light rays emitted from a supplemental turning indicator and side object detection indicator are transmitted therethrough. In at least one embodiment a supplemental turning indicator and side object detection indicator are positioned behind a mirror element within a receptacle of a carrier 1575 d along with a heat extraction member 1531 d. In at least one embodiment a bezel 1524 d is provided to retain a mirror element within a carrier. In at least one embodiment a supplemental turning indicator and side object detection indicator assembly is provided comprising a printed circuit board 1501 d and a common optics block 1541 d. In at least one embodiment a printed circuit board is provided with a plurality of light sources 1550 d 2 configured to define a side object detection indicator and a plurality of light sources 1540 d 2 configured to define a supplemental turning indicator. In at least one embodiment a common optics block is provided with a plurality of optics elements 1550 d 3 configured to define a side object detection indicator and a plurality of optics elements 1540 d 1 configured to define a supplemental turning indicator. In at least one embodiment, each optics element comprises a light ray lens portion 1540 d 3 a/ 1550 d 3 and a light ray collecting portion 1540 d 3 b/1550 d 3 b configured to redirect light rays emitted by associated light sources such that light rays emitted from a corresponding assembly are directed to a desired field of view as described elsewhere herein; it should be understood that it is generally desirable to have a supplemental turning indicator configured such that substantially all light rays are visible by a driver of a vehicle that may be in a rear/side area with relationship to the controlled vehicle and substantially all light rays emitted from a side object detection indicator are visible by a driver of a controlled vehicle. It should be understood that a portion of light rays emitted by a supplemental turning indicator may be directed to a driver of a controlled vehicle to provide feedback to the driver.

Turning now to FIG. 15 e a light source 1540 e 2/1550 e 2 mounted to a printed circuit board 1501 e is depicted in proximity of a common optics block 1541 e having an optics element 1540 e 3/1550 e 3 and an optical surface 1541 e 6. In at least one embodiment an optics element comprises a light ray lens portion 1540 e 3 a/1550 e 3 a and a light ray collecting portion 1540 e 3 b/1550 e 3 b. It should be understood that an optics element may be provided with a total internal reflection (TIR) portion, a diverging portion, a collimating portion, a deviating portion, a diffusing portion, a Fresnel lens portion, a collecting portion, a subcombination thereof or a combination thereof. It should be understood that a light source may comprise a primary optics element (not shown) that may, in and of itself, comprise a total internal reflection (TIR) portion, a diverging portion, a collimating portion, a deviating portion, a diffusing portion, a Fresnel lens portion, a collecting portion, a subcombination thereof or a combination thereof; this primary optics element may be in addition to, or in lieu of, a secondary optics element. It should be understood that an optical surface 1541 e 6 as described elsewhere herein may also be included to control the overall light ray direction.

In at least one embodiment a plurality of light sources are configured to project light rays through a given optics element, such as having a red, green and blue light source configured such that any desired color may be achieved by provided an appropriately configured control circuit. In at least one embodiment at least one amber light source and at least one blue/green light source is provided such that either amber, blue/green or white light may be achieved with use of an appropriately configured control circuit. It should be understood that any other color light source(s) may be employed.

In at least one embodiment the total height of a supplemental turning indicator and or side object detection indicator is less than 15 mm, preferably less than 12.5 mm, more preferably less than 10 mm and most preferably less than 5.5 mm thick measured from the bottom of a circuit board to an optical surface of a corresponding common optics block. In at least one embodiment each light source is approximately 1.7 mm long, approximately 0.8 mm wide and approximately 0.65 mm high. In at least one embodiment an opening associated with an indicia, or a portion thereof, is approximately 1.5 mm wide and a plurality of light sources approximately 1.7 mm wide are positioned behind the indicia opening. With this configuration substantially all of the light rays emitted by the light sources pass through the corresponding opening.

In at least one embodiment individual lights sources are LED chips or dice measuring from approximately 0.008 in. to approximately 0.12 in. long by approximately 0.01 in. to approximately 0.016 in. wide by approximately 0.005 in. to approximately 0.013 in. high. Light source assembly with LEDs may be discrete surface mount technology mount to a printed circuit board with silver, indium or other non-lead based solder or by conductive epoxies. The individual LEDs may be standard mount or reverse mount using a reflector or the like to redirect light rays where desired. FR4 or high temperature FR4, metal clad, passivated aluminum, anodized aluminum, thin film aluminum, etc. or flex circuit boards may be employed.

LEDs may be discrete LED components and or LED chips. In at least one embodiment individual LED chips define a chip on board array with one of the aforementioned types of printed circuit boards. Metal cladding two sided or multilayer; individual layers may be approximately 1.0 once to approximately 8.0 once copper, preferably approximately 3 once. The printed circuit board thickness may be approximately 0.15 in. to approximately 0.25 in., preferably 0.2 in. to approximately 0.7 in and most preferably 0.31 in. Preferably, the printed circuit board is plated through thermal vias around and or near the LEDs. It should be understood that either surface mount LEDs or LED chips may be mounted directly to at least one surface of a rearview mirror associated glass substrate, preferably a rear surface of a rear substrate.

In at least one embodiment as depicted in FIG. 15 a substantially rectangular shape mirror assembly having rounded corners is approximately 210 mm wide and approximately 105 mm high and comprises a chevron shaped supplemental turning indicator is provided with a width of approximately 1.5 mm and each leg being approximately 35 mm. Twenty-three light sources are positioned as depicted in FIG. 15 b such that light rays are projected through a common optics block as depicted in FIG. 15 c having twenty-three individual optics elements associated with the chevron shape. In at least one embodiment a luminous flux of each light source is either approximately 250 mlm, approximately 275 mlm, approximately 320 mlm, approximately 400 mlm, approximately 445 mlm, approximately 500 mlm, approximately 530 mlm or approximately 640 mlm. It should be understood that depending what type light source is selected that between approximately 0.2 and approximately 0.5 times the amount of light emitted from the device will actually pass through a corresponding indicia opening, therefore, the average luminous flux density numbers may be lower than what would otherwise be the case if all the light rays emitted were to go through the opening. The losses may be due to a variety of optical loss, such as, light rays that do not impinge upon an associated optical element as desired, optical element imperfections, reflective light ray loss, etc. With twenty-three light sources positioned behind a chevron having a total opening of approximately 105 mm2 a corresponding average luminous flux density is between approximately 54.76 mlm/mm2 and approximately 140.1 mlm/mm2 depending upon the specific light sources selected. In at least one embodiment as depicted in FIG. 15 a a triangle is provided having each side with a length approximately 14.5 mm and a width approximately 1.5 mm for a total open area of approximately 65.25 mm2; with a total of fifteen light sources the luminous flux density is between approximately 57.47 mlm/mm2 and approximately 147.12 mlm/mm2. In at least one embodiment an opening in a reflective layer and or substantially transparent electrode associated with an indicia is approximately 0.8 mm and at least one light source is oriented such that its width of 0.8 mm is aligned with the opening. In at least one embodiment an opening associated with an indicia is less than approximately 2 mm wide, preferably less than approximately 1.7 mm wide, more preferably less than approximately 1 mm wide and most preferably less than approximately 0.8 mm wide and at least one light source is positioned behind the opening such that a corresponding width and or length is oriented with respect to the opening such that the width of the opening is greater than or equal to the width or length of the at least one light source. The narrow opening associated with the individual indicia provide scalability with regard to the overall mirror assembly; for example, the length of the legs of a given chevron may be a function of the overall height and or width of the given mirror assembly. The total number of light sources as open indicia area may then be increased or decreased to provide the average luminous flux density desired. An additional benefit of a narrow indicia opening is with regard to the coloring and or clearing of an associated electro-optic element, uniform coloring and or clearing is a function of the opening width when a reflector (that functions at least in part as an electrode) is on an inner surface of a rear substrate. Therefore, it is desirable to maintain uniform coloring and or clearing by providing sufficiently narrow openings. A benefit of using correspondingly narrow light sources is that little if any light loss results, therefore, heat generation is kept to a minimum. Heat generation in mirror assemblies is not desirable. A printed circuit board having heavy metallic coatings may be employed to function as a heat extraction element for removing heat from the light sources; in at least one embodiment a heavy metallic coating is in thermal communication with a heat extraction member such as described with regard to FIG. 15 d. It should be understood that thermally conductive polymers, either electrically insulating or not, may be employed in lieu of or in addition to metallic structure to remove heat from the light source(s).

Although the present invention has been described with regard to specific embodiments, it should be understood that the scope of the present invention extends to all embodiments encompassed within the doctrine of equivalents.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1518787Jun 24, 1921Dec 9, 1924Clox Lite Mfg Company IncLamp
US5005009Feb 15, 1989Apr 2, 1991K. W. Muth Company, Inc.Method and apparatus for multiple object viewing
US5014167Feb 20, 1990May 7, 1991K. W. Muth Company, Inc.Visual signaling apparatus
US5128659Sep 18, 1989Jul 7, 1992K. W. Muth Company, Inc.Instrument display apparatus
US5207492May 2, 1991May 4, 1993K. W. Muth Company, Inc.Mirror assembly
US5371659Feb 1, 1993Dec 6, 1994Donnelly CorporationRemote-actuated exterior vehicle security light
US5788357Aug 28, 1996Aug 4, 1998K. W. Muth Company, Inc.Mirror assembly
US5803579Jun 13, 1996Sep 8, 1998Gentex CorporationIlluminator assembly incorporating light emitting diodes
US5949331Sep 22, 1997Sep 7, 1999Donnelly CorporationDisplay enhancements for vehicle vision system
US6000823Oct 12, 1998Dec 14, 1999Donnelly Mirrors LimitedRearview mirror assembly
US6087953Feb 18, 1998Jul 11, 2000Donnelly CorporationRearview mirror support incorporating vehicle information display
US6124886Aug 25, 1997Sep 26, 2000Donnelly CorporationModular rearview mirror assembly
US6139172Apr 7, 1999Oct 31, 2000Donnelly CorporationInterior mirror assembly for a vehicle incorporating a solid-state light source
US6172613Feb 5, 1999Jan 9, 2001Donnelly CorporationRearview mirror assembly incorporating vehicle information display
US6176602Jun 22, 1998Jan 23, 2001Donnelly CorporationVehicle exterior mirror system with signal light
US6183119Aug 6, 1999Feb 6, 2001Donnelly CorporationLighted vehicular mirror assembly
US6222447May 17, 1999Apr 24, 2001Donnelly CorporationRearview vision system with indicia of backup travel
US6222460Jun 30, 2000Apr 24, 2001Donnelly CorporationInterior rearview mirror system incorporating a supplemental inflatable restraint system status information display
US6257746Nov 3, 1998Jul 10, 2001K. W. Muth Company, Inc.Signalling assembly
US6264353Nov 23, 1998Jul 24, 2001Lear Automotive Dearborn, Inc.Exterior mirror with supplement turn signal
US6276821 *Jun 17, 1999Aug 21, 2001Donnelly CorporationVehicle exterior mirror system with signal light
US6294989Feb 28, 2000Sep 25, 2001Donnelly CorporationTire inflation assistance monitoring system
US6326900Feb 6, 2001Dec 4, 2001Donnelly CorporationInterior rearview mirror system incorporating a light-emitting information display
US6329925Nov 24, 1999Dec 11, 2001Donnelly CorporationRearview mirror assembly with added feature modular display
US6331066Nov 14, 2000Dec 18, 2001Donnelly CorporationLighted vehicular mirror assembly
US6335548Oct 22, 1999Jan 1, 2002Gentex CorporationSemiconductor radiation emitter package
US6366213Dec 11, 2000Apr 2, 2002Donnelly CorporationRearview mirror assembly incorporating electrical accessories
US6386742Mar 15, 2000May 14, 2002Donnelly CorporationModular rearview mirror assembly
US6412973Jul 27, 2000Jul 2, 2002Donnelly CorporationInterior mirror assembly for a vehicle incorporating a solid-state light source
US6416208May 25, 2001Jul 9, 2002Donnelly CorporationVehicle exterior mirror system with signal light
US6428172Nov 24, 1999Aug 6, 2002Donnelly CorporationRearview mirror assembly with utility functions
US6441943Oct 22, 1999Aug 27, 2002Gentex CorporationIndicators and illuminators using a semiconductor radiation emitter package
US6445287Nov 10, 2000Sep 3, 2002Donnelly CorporationTire inflation assistance monitoring system
US6483438Nov 14, 2001Nov 19, 2002Donnelly CorporationRearview mirror assembly incorporating electrical accessories
US6498620May 22, 1996Dec 24, 2002Donnelly CorporationVision system for a vehicle including an image capture device and a display system having a long focal length
US6501387Nov 19, 2001Dec 31, 2002Donnelly CorporationRearview mirror assembly with added feature modular display
US6521916Apr 13, 2001Feb 18, 2003Gentex CorporationRadiation emitter device having an encapsulant with different zones of thermal conductivity
US6550949Sep 15, 1998Apr 22, 2003Gentex CorporationSystems and components for enhancing rear vision from a vehicle
US6568839Oct 16, 2000May 27, 2003Donnelly CorporationVehicle exterior mirror system with signal light
US6611202Feb 5, 2001Aug 26, 2003Donnelly CorporationVehicle camera display system
US6642851Nov 15, 2001Nov 4, 2003Donnelly CorporationInterior rearview mirror system incorporating a directional information display
US6648477Jul 5, 2001Nov 18, 2003Donnelly CorporationRearview mirror assembly with information display
US6670207Feb 19, 2002Dec 30, 2003Gentex CorporationRadiation emitter device having an integral micro-groove lens
US6672744Apr 29, 2002Jan 6, 2004Donnelly CorporationModular rearview mirror assembly
US6685348Jul 8, 2002Feb 3, 2004Donnelly CorporationLighted vehicular exterior rearview mirror system
US6690268Feb 26, 2001Feb 10, 2004Donnelly CorporationVideo mirror systems incorporating an accessory module
US6756912Dec 24, 2002Jun 29, 2004Donnelly CorporationInformation display system for a vehicle
US6870656 *Jan 28, 2003Mar 22, 2005Gentex CorporationElectrochromic rearview mirror element incorporating a third surface reflector
US20040114384Sep 12, 2003Jun 17, 2004Carter John W.Rearview mirror assembly including a multi-functional light module
JPS6043878A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8646924Feb 27, 2012Feb 11, 2014Gentex CorporationRearview device mounting assembly with rotatable support
US8770810Dec 10, 2010Jul 8, 2014Smr Patents S.A.R.L.Rear view mirror assembly with optical indicator
US8814373Feb 22, 2012Aug 26, 2014Gentex CorporationRearview device support assembly
US20120206930 *Aug 16, 2012Minikey Jr Danny LLow profile optical lighting assembly for use in outside vehicle mirror and method of forming same
US20130128601 *May 23, 2013Sl CorporationIntegrated lamp device of vehicle side mirror
EP2675659A2 *Feb 14, 2012Dec 25, 2013Gentex CorporationLow profile optical lighting assembly for use in outside vehicle mirror and method of forming same
WO2012112536A2Feb 14, 2012Aug 23, 2012Gentex CorporationLow profile optical lighting assembly for use in outside vehicle mirror and method of forming same
Classifications
U.S. Classification362/494, 362/540, 362/300, 362/498, 362/327, 362/343
International ClassificationB60Q1/26
Cooperative ClassificationB60Q9/008, F21V5/02, F21S48/2212, B60R1/1207, F21S48/215, B60Q1/2665
European ClassificationB60Q1/26J2, B60R1/12A, B60Q9/00E
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 11, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: GENTEX CORPORATION, MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:TUTTLE, DARIN D.;ROBERTS, JOHN K.;BONARDI, TIMOTHY A.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:016878/0572
Effective date: 20050808
Feb 17, 2009CCCertificate of correction
May 18, 2012FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4